New surgical robot developed to facilitate ear implants

Engineering

UK researchers have developed a new type of handheld robotic drill that allows ear implant surgery to be carried out more safely.

Created by Brunel University, the robotic hand drill incorporates a smart sensor that stops automatically before it reaches the delicate endosteal membrane in the inner ear, making it possible to drill through an eggshell and stop before reaching the membrane.

“A new type of handheld robotic drill has been developed to carry out ear implant surgery more safely.“

Additionally, the devices are designed to leave a smaller footprint and maximise the surgeon's dexterity, while being quick to set up and learn, meaning that training costs can be kept to a minimum.

It is hoped that the drill could be developed further to make it usable in NHS applications, reducing the amount of trauma tissue generated by the surgical procedure and leading to better outcomes across a number of dimensions.

Dr Xinli Du of the Brunel Institute of Bioengineering said: "It reduces the risk of people suffering balance damage. It drills at a much slower pace, which reduces the impact and amount of contact, which means less vibrating, which can damage the cochlea."

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